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Regulatory News

Gov. Robert Bentley signs law increasing state income tax deduction for small businesses that offer health insurance to employees. Applies to 2011 tax year. Deduction for businesses employing fewer than 25 people increases to 200% from 150%.

Gov. Jan Brewer vetoes bill that would have allowed health insurers from other states to write in Arizona. The bill would have waived many rules that protect consumers by allowing out-of-state insurers to compete based on laws in their states of domicile. She also questioned consumers’ recourse in cases where they are wronged by the carrier.

Mel Anderson, deputy commissioner for Financial Regulation in the Insurance Department, selected by state Society of Certified Public Accountants as “Outstanding CPA in Government” for 2011.

Seizes Majestic, a workers compensation insurer offering coverage in multiple states nationwide. Proposes transferring liabilities and certain assets to AmTrust North America, which would pay all of Majestic’s claims. San Francisco Superior Court will look at the proposed rehabilitation plan June 2. >> Bill allowing state regulators to prohibit excessive increases in health insurance rates, co-pays and deductibles moves through legislative committee. Commissioner Dave Jones says last year’s law allowing him to call for an independent actuarial review of proposed increases isn’t enough. This bill permits consumers to intervene in any regulatory decision by filing a civil lawsuit if they disagree with it. >> Adopts workers comp e-billing regulation that encourages insurers and medical providers to transition to electronic billing. New regulation standardizes billing forms. Rules become effective this October.

Omnibus property insurance reform bill, S.B. 408, passes Senate. It cracks down on public adjusters and frees insurers (except Citizens) from providing comprehensive sinkhole coverage. Companion bill is in House. It also allows insurers to charge whatever they want for sinkhole coverage, which could be a problem since some lenders require the coverage for mortgages.

Gov. Nathan Deal expected to sign law requiring that certificate of insurance forms be filed with and approved by the state insurance commissioner. Bill also puts certificate holders under commissioner’s regulatory authority so violations of use rules are punishable under insurance code. >> Legislature passes bill allowing purchase of health insurance from other states.

Gov. Sam Brownback signs workers comp reform bill that raises the threshold for an incident to be compensable, overturns multiple decisions that erode intent of workers comp system, affirms that employers are entitled to a credit for pre-existing conditions, increases benefit caps for injured employees who can no longer work, and requires employers to provide two alternative doctors instead of three.

Insurers have come to an $8 million settlement with building supplier over tainted Chinese drywall. Primary insurers will put up limits of policies for Interior/Exterior Building Supply, a regional supplier for Knauf’s Chinese drywall. Agreement subject to court approval. This is the first settlement with a major supplier in the multi-district litigation (a consolidation of federal cases on the tainted drywall). Plaintiffs will proceed to trial later in 2011 against Interior/Exterior’s excess carriers who have more than $72 million in potential liability.

Regulators come to agreement with insurers to hold workers comp rates steady until at least September 2012. The industry had requested a 6.6% average increase.

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